Driver in Operation Evening Mass case ‘could have been dropping men to visit friends’

Driver in Operation Evening Mass case ‘could have been dropping men to visit friends’

Prosecution and defence lawyers in the case made their closing speeches and Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin began to address the jury of seven men and five women at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. Picture: iStock

THE man accused of being a getaway driver for the burglary of a house when the owners were at Mass could have been dropping the other two men to visit friends, the defence claimed but the prosecution said he was in a joint enterprise.

Prosecution and defence lawyers in the case made their closing speeches and Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin began to address the jury of seven men and five women at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

It is anticipated they will commence their deliberations in the case against John Faulkner, aged 38, of 4 Adelaide Place, St Luke’s, today on the only remaining charges against him — entering a house as a trespasser to commit a theft at Freemount, Charleville, County Cork, on Saturday, October 19, 2019, endangerment and dangerous driving at Banteer in County Cork.

Prosecution barrister Donal O’Sullivan said in his closing speech to the jury: “This case is about a burglary. In terms of the physical elements of it, it was committed by two other people. John Faulkner did not cross the threshold or lift his hand to search the house but we say he was part of that joint enterprise or common design. There was a plan — an enterprise — to carry out a burglary. I have to submit the evidence is sufficient to prove that.

“What the evidence shows is three persons including John Faulkner make their way out and end up in North Cork on Friday, October 18. The vehicle comes back to Cork around lunchtime.

“The next day another vehicle is seen heading out to North West Cork. You have the evidence of Detective Garda Paul Leahy hiding on a boreen outside the house. He hears two people getting out of a car. Lo and behold these are the two people — one found in the house, one found outside the house. The vehicle is driven by John Faulkner. He drives past and goes out of sight. He drives back again, and again goes out of sight.”

Mr O’Sullivan reminded the jury of evidence that one of the garda surveillance team momentarily “locked eyes” with the defendant when they drove past each other and that the defendant then allegedly “took off” and allegedly threw two gear bags out the window of the car.

Defence senior counsel Ciarán O’Loughlin said: “There is no disputing he was seen in a car with (the two men convicted of burgling the elderly couple’s home).

“Except that he was in a car with two people who committed a burglary and that later he was in a collision with a garda car, there is nothing.

“With adrenaline high I have no doubt the guards will see something evil when it is something ordinary. And if there was a collision it is more likely that the guards ran into his car than the other way around.

“There is no proof that Mr Faulkner knew what the other two were up to.”

The defence senior counsel said the two men convicted of burglary were on a list of names including five others who were under garda investigation for seven months prior to this crime.

“John Faulkner’s name was only added the day before (the burglary) when he happened to be seen in a car with people being investigated,” Mr O’Loughlin said.

The defence senior counsel said the jury could not conclude that John Faulkner knew where the other two accused were going simply because they had been in his car and that they could have been going to visit friends for all John Faulkner knew.

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